Wednesday, May 24, 2017

China’s belt and road diplomacy

Posted 5 hours ago by Uche Atuma

Category: Opinion


THE Belt and Road strategy as a Chinese initiative was originally espoused as the “Silk Road Economic Belt”, during a lecture delivered at a University in Kazakhstan by President Xi Jinping in 2013. Later in an address to the Indonesian parliament, President Xi outlined the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, both an overland and maritime route to build global connectivity through the construction of infrastructure networks like railways, airways, ports, and harbors  that would facilitate people-to-people contacts, deepen market integration and facilitate trade.
The “Silk Road” of the economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime, was designed as a new international cooperation and development strategy in the spirit of its ancient predecessor, where for over 2000 years ago, ancient people trekked across the vast steppes and deserts, opened the transcontinental passage traversing Asia, Europe and Africa in what  has become known today as the Silk Road. Further navigating rough seas, the people created sea routes linking the East with the West, which also became the contemporary Maritime Silk Road
For over thousands of years and miles, the Silk Road comes to embody a bright chapter of friendly engagement among nations and mutual sharing of civilization.
President Xi Jinping said that the ancient Silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.
Following in the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, the contemporary Chinese Initiative of the Belt and Road strategy is aimed at giving real substance to the contemporary world trend of multipolarism, economic globalization, cultural diversity and greater information technology applications. According to the “Action Plan on the China-Proposed Belt and Road Initiative”, it, “aims to provide connectivity of Asia, European and African continents and their adjacent seas, establish and strengthen partnerships among countries along the Belt and Road, set up all-dimensional, multi-tier and composite connectivity networks and realize diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development in these countries”.
The connectivity projects of the Initiative would help align and co-ordinate the development strategies of the countries along the Belt and Road, tap market potentials in the regions, promote investment and consumption, create demands and job opportunities, enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and mutual learning among peoples. In reflecting the common ideals and pursuit of human societies, the Initiative is a positive endeavor to seek new models of international cooperation and global governance and will inject new positive energy into world peace and development.
The core content of the Belt and Road strategy is to promote international connectivity through elaborate framework of infrastructure constructions and this aligns with the existential challenge of infrastructure deficits in Nigeria and Africa. To leverage the core content of the Belt and Road international cooperation and development strategy to the priority needs of Nigeria and Africa and fill the infrastructure gaps, would require an unusual statesmanship and deep policy insight, that transcends the ambiguities of traditional  foreign policy. Already, the existing mechanism of China-Africa cooperation, the Forum on China–Africa cooperation  (FOCAC) have proven a viable and reliable framework that have delivered major cooperation projects between China and Africa. The Belt and Road international cooperation, under which the key issues of China-Africa cooperation through the existing mechanism of the FOCAC process is aligned can be deepened and elaborated.
The Belt and Road strategy represents a fresh undertaking by the global South in partnership with the North industrialized and developed economies, to build an inclusive global economic and financial architecture, with a historic opportunity for Africa and her biggest and most influential nation, Nigeria to inscribe her foot print in the emerging new world order. The last time, the global architecture was re-made;  in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the bulk of Africa was under the tutelage of European colonialism and could not participate as independent actors on the world stage. The shift in the balance of powers today is happening without the cataclysms of major war or conflict and is therefore, less discernable but the benefit of strategic insight could offer a glimpse into it. The Belt and Road process is the most tangible and practical expression of the shift, even though, it is at embryonic stage.
At the Beijing forum on the Belt and Road this month, major countries, including those not on the original and ancient Silk Road, took a stand. The United States of America, which said she “recognized the importance of China-Proposed Belt and Road Initiative”, sent a delegation led by special assistant to President Trump, Mr. Matt Pottinger. The general secretary of Japan Liberal Democratic Party, Mr. Toshihiro led the Japanese delegation to the High Level dialogue of the Belt and Road Forum.
President Putin who led the Russian delegation said that the Belt and Road fit into “a role model for the global community of how we can work together, develop together based on equality and respect for national sovereignty, and also based on international law and the UN principles”.
However, a profound and deep insight of the initiative was offered by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Anthonio Gutteres who said among other things that “the Belt and Road Initiative has immense potential and can promote effective access to markets and new opportunities” adding that it is crucial to stress the links between the initiative and (the UN) sustainable development goals”. The Belt and Road Initiative, he further articulated “is rooted in a shared vision for global development, which is expected to generate fast investment in infrastructure.”
Mrs. Christine Largarde of the International Monetary (IMF) and her counterpart from the World Bank, Dr. Yong Kim, spoke in the same vein, in which the Belt and Road Initiative opens a new chapter in international cooperation and development.  As the only scholar from Sub-Saharan Africa attending the high level dialogue of global think-tanks, I mentioned that the core strategy of the Belt and Road process objectively aligns with the priority concerns of Africa to enhance infrastructure connectivity and boost industrial and production capacity, and that, the true global content of the Belt and Road will become strategically manifest, if it integrates Africa to its mainstream. President xi Jinping who had earlier called the Belt and Road strategy, “project of the century”, outlined a provision of over 60 billion U.S dollars to fund projects identified in the strategy. He noted  that the Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank, (AIIB) and the BRIC New Development Bank are new financial instruments to lend heavy financial muscle to projects of the Belt and Road.
Onunaiju is the Director of the Centre for China Studies, (CCS) Utako, Abuja
The already Silk Road Fund established by China with initial capitalization of 40 billion U.S dollars, got additional 10 billion U.S dollars to finance project along the Belt and Road strategy, which means that the critical bottleneck of infrastructure funding in Africa will be overcome, if the region engages itself fully to the Belt and Road international mechanism for development.
For the avoidance of doubt, president Xi Jinping sounded loud and clear that the “Belt and Road Initiative is rooted in the ancient Silk Road. It focuses on the Asian, European and African continents but is also open to all other countries. All countries from Asia, Europe, Africa or Americas can be international cooperation partners of the Belt and Road Initiative”,  and noted that “the pursuit of this Initiative is based on extensive consultation and its benefits will be shared by us, all”.
Meanwhile, the Africa’s component at the initiative is up and running. The Mombasa port and  Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway in Kenya to connect, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi is in progress while the nearly 10,000km, first Africa electric-railway connecting Ethiopia and Djibouti has been completed and is now in use. These early Africa harvests of the Belt and Road strategy signals that Africa is in the prospects of new age revolution that promises the fulfillment of the region’s long desire for functional integration and unity, industrialization and job opportunities for her teeming populations, especially the youths.
Onunaiju is the Director of the Centre for China Studies, (CCS) Utako, Abuja 

Pakistan Navy Fleet Tanker provides drinking water to Gwadar

19 Staff Reporter Islamabad

The Prevalent scarcity of water in Balochistan due scanty water resources and marginal rains is affecting the common man to such a level that the situation needs to be addressed. Being aware of the situation, Pakistan Navy utilizing its resources promptly dispatched its Fleet Tanker PNS NASR to Gwadar with 1200 tons of fresh/drinking water. The Ship reached yesterday at Gwadar port and distribution of water to area residents has been made in coordination with local District Administration. The fresh water supply by Pakistan Navy is paying the dividends and the situation in Gwadar City has improved. Commander West Navy, Commodore Ovais Hyder Zaidi is presently supervising the said relief efforts on behalf of Pakistan Navy. It may be mentioned that Pakistan Navy, having its operational bases and adequate presence at coastal belt, is actively pursuing various development projects especially at Gwadar and Ormara. Pakistan Navy would continue to provide all out assistance through its relief and rehabilitation support, whether it be an earthquake, flood or any natural calamity to ease out miseries of populace

Pakistan’s cutting edge in China’s ‘new world order’

Kamran Rehmat

Thursday، 25 May 2017 12:17 AM

The other week, China sent out the strongest message yet of its ambition to carve out what has the makings of a ‘new world order’ — something that had until now been considered the sole preserve of the United States, especially since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
With the unfancied Donald Trump winning the election on the pivot of “Making America Great Again” — designed around an inward policy — and one that is cast in a protectionist mould, a confident China finds itself free to pursue an economic zeitgeist that has the potential to turn it into the world’s leading power.
In this larger scheme of things, it finds heavyweight Russia on its side quite simply because their strategic interests converge.
The One Belt, One Road — or OBOR, to be more succinct — saw heads of state and government from 29 countries, representatives from more than 40 other countries, and heads of UN and multilateral financial agencies, including IMF and World Bank, turn up in Beijing.
An eye for a pie in the trillion dollar infrastructure development project that links the old Silk Road with Europe was palpable.
Even the US and Japan sent delegations.
The who’s who were keen on getting to know what’s what of the phenomenal juggernaut that, at the moment, binds 68 countries from Asia and Africa to Europe and even South America — accounting for up to 40 trillion of the world’s GDP — in a potential partnership whose gravitas for a windfall is lost on no-one.
The OBOR initiative is a manifestation of the shifting sands in global geopolitics, where look-East will hoist Eurasia at the centre of economic and trade activity away from the US-led transatlantic regime.
To be certain, Chinese President Xi Jinping has made the OBOR initiative the centrepiece of his infrastructure behemoth, the sheer scale of which, the world has not seen since the end of the Second World War.
According to Chinese government estimates, nearly $1tn has been invested in the OBOR with multiple trillion more to come in the next decade.
Beijing is also pumping a collective $150bn in development projects in the 68 countries that are part of the project.
The only major regional country to abstain from the epoch-making summit in Beijing was India, which has serious reservations about the project owing to its competing interests with China and the OBOR flagship project — China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — which pitches Pakistan right at the fulcrum of the path leading to South and Central Asia.
Both China and Pakistan have offered India to join the profitable engine of economic growth, but so far it remains wary of the geographical bind that has Pakistan sitting pretty with a bilateral engagement (CPEC) estimated at approximately $57bn, and which, is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.
It has seen a surge of nearly $11bn in the last three years alone from an initial projected $46bn!
For Islamabad, of course, this is more than a prized venture that promises to turn its fortunes around.
Once it materialises, it will have insulated Pakistan from any untoward economic downturn and largely addressed the perennial issue of capital.
From initial misgivings at home about unequal distribution thanks to political bickering, CPEC has now assumed a certain unity of purpose four years down the road, which was evident in how Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited chief ministers of two provinces where his political rivals rule, and both not only accepted the invitation but were a prominent presence in an official delegation led by Sharif that easily outscored every other country at the summit!
The CPEC has elevated a more than five-decade-old strategic partnership based largely on security cooperation — famously dubbed as being “Higher than the Himalayas and Deeper than the Oceans” — into a dynamic economic relationship whose reach and potential entwines them in an unbreakable bond.
While China would literally, expand its economic might thousands of miles across the region, Pakistan can hardly complain about being the gateway for two routes — the continental Eurasian Silk Road Economic Belt and a Southeast Asian Maritime Silk Road! 
Prime Minister Sharif had plenty to smile about as he oversaw the signing of new wide-ranging accords amounting to $500mn, including an airport in Gwadar — the site of a deep water port that opens into the Arabian Sea from the far western Chinese province of Xinjiang; the setting up of a dry port in Havelian in northern Pakistan; and economic and technical co-operation for the East Bay Expressway linking Gwadar to Pakistan’s highway network.
Addressing the plenary session of the two-day powerhouse of a show in Beijing, Sharif called for finding a connect in line with the official theme entitled ‘Co-operation for Common Prosperity’.
“It is time we transcend our differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy and leave a legacy of peace for future generations,” he emphasised, before driving home the imperative of peace and security through economic progress.
“The OBOR signifies that geo-economics must take precedence over geo-politics, and that the centre of gravity should shift from conflict to cooperation,” he said, and rejected the notion of encirclement of any country.
President Xi underlined this by allaying concerns that OBOR was designed to manipulate geopolitics for Beijing’s vested interest.
“China is willing to share its development experience with all countries. We will not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. We will not export our social system and development model, and will not impose our views on others,” he concluded.

* The writer is Community Editor

CPEC is a sea change: It transforms the matrix of opportunities and threats in India’s neighbourhood

May 25, 2017, 2:00 AM IST Swagato Ganguly in 


President Donald Trump’s “America first” policies have led to America contemplating (mostly) its own navel, while the domestic politics of Great Britain – that former empire builder – seems to be about how to make itself irrelevant in the world. Into that breach has stepped President Xi Jinping with visions of making China great, and to that end he has been promoting his signature ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) with missionary zeal.

Xi declared the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to be BRI’s flagship, thereby hotting up Kiplingian ‘great games’ in India’s neighbourhood. Some enthusiastic commentators have compared BRI to America’s Marshall Plan to resuscitate postwar Europe. This is wildly optimistic.

Illustration: Chad Crowe

When the Marshall Plan was launched the US bestrode the world economy like a colossus – accounting for close to 30% of global economic output – while Europe and Japan lay in ruins. Moreover America was facing off with the Soviet Union; the Cold War was just beginning.

These factors made the Americans remarkably generous. Most Marshall Plan aid was in the form of grants instead of loans; Europeans themselves were asked to create their own plans to rebuild their countries; technical assistance was provided to European manufacturers. Moreover the Americans extended Marshall Plan-like aid to Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, and opened their market to them without reciprocal benefits. Soon, they would flower into ‘miracle’ economies with explosive growth rates.

Dating from 1948 the Marshall Plan, in fact, launched America as an outward looking, global power (some might argue that era ended in 2016 when America elected Trump and looked to return to pre-World War II isolationatism). So, did China just do in 2013 – when Xi launched BRI – what the US did in 1948?

Far from it. China’s own ‘miracle growth’ has tapered off and its economy is under unprecedented pressure. According to Ruchir Sharma, Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist, China has kept its growth going after the 2008 financial crash mainly through stimulus measures, by pumping debt into wasteful projects.

China’s public and private debts have grown from a manageable 150% of GDP during the boom years to an unsustainable 260% now, which according to Sharma’s calculations will most likely whipsaw its economy into a deep slowdown or even a recession. The next global financial recession, in fact, could be triggered by China.

The details of most BRI deals, negotiated between secretive governments, are murky. They often have the flavour of the Mughal emperor bestowing a firman on the East India Company. The subcontinent has seen this movie before and is understandably leery, including in Pakistan which otherwise sees China as its “iron brother”. There’s a debate in Pakistan now, on whether CPEC should be seen as a gift horse or a Trojan horse.

The Nawaz Sharif government has not yet released details of the CPEC master plan which it agreed to in December 2015, going so far as to characterise a recent report detailing the plan in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper as an appalling ‘leak’ (on par with Dawn’s earlier leak about Islamabad pleading with Rawalpindi to curb its proxy warriors, a leak which incensed the military and caused senior government heads to roll). The shroud of secrecy, together with the sweeping and ambitious scale of the plans as revealed by Pakistani press reports, incline one towards the ‘Trojan horse’ metaphor.

Thus, while there will be a panoply of tax and duty concessions for Chinese enterprises – not available to Pakistani businessmen, let alone investors from other countries – the bulk of the aid will consist either of expensive loans or equity transfers. Pakistan was made to refuse a loan offer from the multilateral Asian Development Bank for its $8 billion Peshawar-Karachi railway line, whose funds must be drawn from a Chinese bank instead. Thousands of acres of land are to be leased to Chinese entities. Visa-free access to Pakistan is planned for Chinese nationals, with no reciprocity.

There is no clarity whatsoever on the funding and repayment terms of CPEC projects. One report cites a planning ministry official to the effect that Pakistan has bound itself to awarding all CPEC projects to Chinese contractors at whatever price the latter quote. Instead of being excited about CPEC, Pakistani businessmen are apprehensive of its fallout.

In short, if CPEC is BRI’s flagship, then BRI could be a way of exporting the debt problem that burdens the Chinese economy and rapidly acquire assets abroad. The Hambantota story is well known: when the current Sri Lankan government came to power it found itself saddled with $8 billion in Chinese debt, thanks to deals negotiated by the previous Rajapaksa government. To help pay this debt Sri Lanka now wants to sell off the strategically located Hambantota port to a Chinese company, but is being held back by vociferous political protests.

How should India play BRI? Its general attitude of wariness is the right one, but that should be married to an awareness of the compulsions and weaknesses driving Chinese policy, which Beijing will mask by projecting its sense of manifest destiny and grandiose rhetoric around BRI.

Such an awareness may even enable New Delhi to leverage those compulsions and get Beijing to pay more attention to its concerns. But for that it must be prepared to negotiate hard and keep its own strengths in mind – unlike the Pakistanis who have walked into a trap driven by a simplistic worldview that may be summed up by the quasi-Orwellian dictum: “China good, India bad”.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.


Swagato Ganguly

After drinking at various disciplinary streams, which included an engineering degree from IIT Kanpur and a doctorate in literature from the University of Pennsylvania, Swagato Ganguly now edits “The Times of Ideas”, the editorial page of the Times of India. He’s fascinated by ideas in all shapes, sizes and guises, whether well-cooked or medium-rare – but especially as they motivate everyday living. He’s also interested in the Indian middle class, in its uniqueness as well as globality. In his view Indian politics is torn between ideological extremes, and would do well to discover a liberal middle. His biggest weaknesses are movies, art, and brewing and sipping a good cup of coffee, for which he gets little time

CPEC: Why Pakistan will not gain much from this OBOR project in its present form

By: FE Online | New Delhi | Updated: May 25, 2017 11:13 AM

The report said CPEC, which will traverse through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) may create "geopolitical tension" in the region.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the flagship project of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, has been projected as a game-changer for Pakistan’s economy. It is expected that the $50 billion project would not just help raise Pakistan’s economic output but also transform the country, which is at present infamous for its terror credentials. However, a report has revealed that Pakistan may not gain much from CPEC in its present form. The report by UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), prepared on the request of China, has made some disturbing predictions for Pakistan. Such as:

The report said CPEC, which will traverse through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) may create “geopolitical tension” in the region by igniting further tensions between India and Pakistan. “The dispute over Kashmir is also of concern since the crossing of the CPEC in the region might create geopolitical tension with India and ignite further political instability,” said the report on China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.This problem can be resolved only when China take India on board OBOR but this cannot happen as long as Pakistan continues to claim PoK as its own. Secondly, Pakistan also needs to shun terrorism to start a peaceful relationship with India.The report says that CPEC could fuel separatist movement in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. While noting that CPEC could serve as the “driver for trade and economic integration” between China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states, the report said that the project may also cause several problems within Pakistan and reignite separatist movement in the country due to opposition in Balochistan. “However, social and environmental safeguards are a concern. The CPEC could lead to widespread displacement of local communities. In Balochistan, there are concerns that migrants from other regions of Pakistan will render ethnic Baloch a minority in the province,” it said.The report says that instability in Afghanistan could cast a shadow over the viability of the CPEC. “Afghanistan’s political instability could also limit the potential benefits of transit corridors to population centres near Kabul or Kandahar, as those routes traverse southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban are most active,” it said.Moreover, the report says that there are concerns over CPEC passing through the already narrow strip of cultivable land in the mountainous western Pakistan, destroying farmland and orchards. The resulting resettlements will reduce local population into an “economically subservient minority”, it said, adding, “In addition, Hazaras are another minority of concern. If the benefits of the proposed CPEC are reaped by large conglomerates, linked to Chinese or purely Punjabi interests, the identity and culture of the local population could be further marginalised,” the report cautioned.“Marginalisation of local population groups could reignite separatist movements and toughen military response from the Government,” it further said.

The UN report says that CPEC would “wide-reaching implications for China and for the countries it links across the Asia-Pacific and for the global economy.” But to realise the full potential of the project, the report has pointed some prerequisites. It said that CPEC should be founded on principles such as trust, confidence and sharing benefits among participating states. These are, however, missing at present. Second, CPEC should play a positive role in the response to climate change. “Lastly, to be effective and deliver results in a timely fashion, it should go beyond bilateral project transactions to promote regional and multilateral policy frameworks,” the report said

Border clashes have seen forcing Pakistan to boost defence spending

By Bloomberg | Updated: May 25, 2017, 07.49 AM IST

Pakistan’s relations with its neighbours have drastically deteriorated this year.

By Kamran Haider and Ismail Dilawar 

Pakistan’s powerful military will probably push for an increase in defence spending ahead of Friday’s national budget as border clashes with neighbouring India and Afghanistan mount. 

Pakistan’s relations with its neighbours have drastically deteriorated this year. On Tuesday, India’s military said it hit army posts in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir that it said were providing cover for insurgents planning attacks, a claim that Pakistan’s forces denied. 

The nuclear-armed nation has also repeatedly closed its border with Afghanistan following a spate of bombings in February, which Pakistan’s military blamed on insurgents operating inside its neighbour, and after cross-border shots were exchanged between the two country’s armed forces this month. 

“While the Indian threat remains on Pakistan’s eastern border permanently, border escalations with Afghanistan” are also a concern, said Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar-based defence analyst and author of ‘The Militant Discourse.’ “This, of course, will make the security establishment press for a significant increase in the defence budget,” which may rise by 30 percent, he said. 

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Pre-election budget 
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif heads into an election battle next year and is widely seen as the front-runner for a second term. Managing public opinion as border clashes continue and the need to protect more than $50 billion in Chinese-financed infrastructure projects mean he’s unlikely to push back against requests for more military spending at a time when the economy shows signs of stress. 

Despite the economy expanding at a rate of 5.3 percent annually, Pakistan’s current account deficit tripled to $7.3 billion in the ten months through April and its trade gap expanded to $3.2 billion in April, close to lowest level hit a month ago since Bloomberg started compiling data in 2003. 

A spending hike may also be needed to fund increased protection for the Chinese infrastructure projects, said Sakib Sherani, chief executive officer of Islamabad-based research company Macroeconomic Insights Ltd. 

More troops will be added to a 9,000-strong special force raised to protect Chinese workers, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said in an interview on Monday, without providing further details. 

Pakistan’s military, which has ruled the country for much of its life since it gained independence 70 years ago, continues to influence key foreign policy decisions and holds a considerable grip on the economy. 

The armed force’s institutional stance against India, it’s larger rival since partition at the end of British colonial rule, has provided a basis for the security establishment’s over-sized funding demands, Hussain said. The military has also long been accused of supporting militant forces to push its geopolitical goals. 

“Pakistan often uses proxy groups to target India, which gives Islamabad plausible deniability while sending a signal to New Delhi that Pakistan can respond” to aggression, Shailesh Kumar and Sasha Riser-Kositsky, analysts at Eurasia Group, said in a research report on Tuesday. 

Mutual distrust has also strained relations between politicians and the army, which is seen as one of Pakistan’s better-run institutions. To many, the military has always taken a disproportionate amount of the budget at the expense of spending on the country’s education and health. The armed forces are also considered unaccountable and have a history of removing democratically-elected leaders. 

Sharif, who in a previous stint in power was toppled in a 1999 coup by his then chosen army chief Pervez Musharraf, has an uneasy relationship with the military. Last year his government raised the defence budget by 11 percent to 860 billion rupees ($8.2 billion) or about a fifth of Pakistan’s overall spending. 

Fatalities Falling 
A separate 100 billion rupees was also allocated for a military offensive against domestic militants and to support people displaced by the operations. 

With that has come a sharp decline in attacks across South Asia’s second largest economy. Military operations were ramped up across the country after the Pakistani Taliban massacred more than 100 school children in the northern city of Peshawar in December 2014. 

Fatalities from insurgency fell 32 percent in first quarter of 2017 compared with the previous year, according to the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies. 

Yet major attacks still happen. This month a motorcade carrying the deputy chairman of the Senate was hit by a bomb blast and at least 10 Pakistani labourers were killed in Balochistan, a southern province that has long been racked by separatist unrest and where China is developing a flagship port in Gwadar. 

In a February interview, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar pledged that the government wouldn’t go on a spending binge before the elections. However, Planning Minister Iqbal said the government will provide “all resources” needed by the military. 

“We can’t afford any sort of complacency,” Iqbal said.

Dr. Malik Forced DELTA Center Turbat To Close Down?

By News editor - May 23, 201701807
DELTA Center Turbat is famous among the people for spreading education among the students of the region and it comes under discussion most often for many different reasons. Sometimes the people sing the praises of it as its students and alumni pass Competitive Exams and secure top positions in different universities of Pakistan.

Recently it received nonstop praises on social media from a large number of people belonging to different walks of life as twelve alumni of its successfully cleared PCS written test.

However, the news took the people by surprise when DELTA administration announced to close down the educational activities of its institution due to financial crisis and non-availability of building.

The building of the institution is situated on Commissionary Road Turbat since 2003. The reason for popularity of this institution is not only teaching English language and grammar, but it attracted the young generation because it preached and worked for promotion of Balochi language, literature and culture. Teaching Balochi language, conducting cultural programs, promoting the culture of reading circle and such other activities made DELTA popular among the masses.

DELTA Center Turbat came under criticism in 2013 when former Chief Minister of Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch’s house was attacked with a bomb at a time when National Party was busy in party’s meeting. NP at the time was busy in preparing for elections.

Right after the bomb blast, Dr Malik’s personnel guards jumped over the walls of DELTA center and harassed the teachers along with students. To be noted DELTA center building and Dr. Malik’s house share the same wall.

Dr. Malik accused DELTA administration of being involved in the attack as the bomb was thrown from DELTA center building. National Party leaders blamed that DELTA administration facilitated the ‘attackers and its building was used to attack the party workers and leaders.’

Later on director of DELTA center Barket Ismail was taken into custody for interrogation. However, he was released after being put behind the bars for one day.

DELTA administration asked NP leadership to provide them evidence of being involved in the attack. DELTA administration said they were ready to accept any sort of punishment if found guilty.

From that day on wards, DELTA administration eliminated teaching Balochi language, promoting culture and literature from its agenda and just functioned as an English Language and Grammar Academy because of which a large number of youth expressed frustration over the decision taken by DELTA.

While talking to  online media organization, “Haalhawal”, DELTA School Principal Murad Ismail said he was being threaten by the unknown men to leave Turbat city. He said some influential political leaders were constantly pressurizing him to put an end to the educational activities in the building situated besides Dr Malik’s house.

Murad Ismail said in previous month, they were openly threatened to close down the institution and they had no other option but to leave that building. DELTA center classes were shifted to DELTA school building for the time being.

According to DELTA school principal, school building does not have enough space and capacity to arrange DELTA center classes.

DELTA administration and students condemned this act and called it a conspiracy to derail education system in the region.

Gwadar will be the economic funnel for the region

The Pakistan port, operated by China, will also benefit countries in Central Asia and the Middle East as it helps unhindered flow of energy and goods

By Sajjad Ashraf, Special to Gulf News

16:43 May 24, 2017

Pakistan’s deep-sea port Gwadar, which the Chinese built and are now operating under a 40-year agreement, remains a subject of considerable interest for much of the world. The port, 605km east of the world’s biggest energy choke point — Straits of Hormuz, has a much bigger strategic dimension than earlier imagined. Nearly 20 per cent of the world’s traded oil and 77 per cent headed towards Asia-Pacific pass through the Straits everyday. Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf had described Gwadar as the “economic funnel for the whole region”. Gwadar shortens China’s route to the world by thousands of kilometres.

Gwadar’s importance increased manifold following China’s announcement of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by President Xi Jinping in 2015 at an estimated cost of $45 billion (Dh165.51 billion). Additional projects have now raised the investment volume to $54 billion. As the southern terminal of the CPEC, close to the Straits of Hormuz, Gwadar assumes formidable importance in the high-stakes power game for strategic control of the Indian Ocean region.

Despite initial challenges, there is considerable optimism in its future because firstly the Chinese go full-steam once they take on a project. Secondly, Gwadar being a vital cog in the CPEC, China or Pakistan cannot afford its failure. The projected development of road, rail links, with oil and gas pipelines will convert Gwadar into a trans-shipment port for China and the Central Asian region.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that after senior Russian officials visited Gwadar, Pakistan has also acquiesced to Russia’s interest in using the port. Moscow’s gradual thaw towards Pakistan may also be a consequence of this mutual interest.

For Pakistan, Gwadar, with its industrial free zone is potentially the economic engine that can help shore up its faltering economy. The 923 hectares zone will be manufacturing hinterland for the Gwadar Port and will benefit countries of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Gwadar’s location 460km west of Karachi decreases Pakistan’s vulnerability against India in case of another round of hostilities between the two neighbours. Along with the naval base at Ormara 349km west of Karachi, Pakistan will have an enhanced ability to eavesdrop on India’s naval manoeuvres in the Arabian Sea.

Underlying China’s need is the fact the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries together account for 60 per cent of China’s energy supplies. Nearly 75 per cent of China’s energy supplies pass through the Straits of Malacca. The US navy and its allies have a commanding presence in both the regions and can block China’s supplies. Beijing for now seems to be developing Gwadar to be a terminal of Iranian, GCC and African oil, which leaves open the possibility of Chinese naval units patrolling the areas around. While this may be the ostensible interest, it is likely that Iran’s gas and oil pipelines will extend to Gwadar through overland route to provide greater security to its supplies from the Gulf.

Gwadar’s importance to CPEC is logical — once developed, it will help spur economic growth in China’s western region through much shorter energy supply route and for exports from China through Gwadar into the Middle East and beyond.

Gwadar’s strategic significance is best understood as part of a growing Chinese acquisition of port facilities, often described as the “string of pearls” in the Indian Ocean region. Gwadar followed Chinese presence in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Seychelles and Sri Lanka, and will soon add Djibouti where a Chinese-built naval base is nearing completion.

The US and India are just about the only significant countries looking at the Chinese OBOR/CPEC initiative with scepticism. They believe that the twin initiative is meant more to secure China’s geo-strategic aims with political and security implications for them. Gwadar is therefore, viewed differently by either side.

Despite several Chinese overtures to join the CPEC, India believes that the initiative, of which Gwadar is a key component, is designed for strategic encirclement of India. The US is also wary of China supplanting American hegemony around the world.

In this game of power, the fact remains that the US, through its land and sea-based deployments, overwhelmingly dominates the oil-producing Middle East region and the sea lanes. No rapidly ascending power can accept to remain a hostage to such military dominance. Hence the Chinese attempts to break out of the US-imposed order.

Gwadar and the CPEC project offer several opportunities to the GCC countries. From nearly 15,000km distance between the UAE ports to Xingjiang in China, the Gwadar route will bring the shipping distance down to just about 2,500km. When the road, rail and energy pipelines are in place, Gwadar will offer the shortest and more secure route for the transportation of Gulf oil to China and goods either way, eliminating any danger of chocking at Malacca.

Gwadar therefore, offers a unique opportunity for not only China and Pakistan, but will also directly benefit countries in Central Asia and the Middle East. The unhindered and efficient flow of energy and goods will bring advantages of interdependence leading to peace and greater prosperity to the region.

Sajjad Ashraf is an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He was a member of Pakistan Foreign Service from 1973-2008



A week after the Singaporean PM’s absence from the Belt and Road Forum stirred debate regarding China-Singapore ties, his deputy Teo Chee Hean says the countries’ common interests outweigh ‘occasional differences’


Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo: AFP

I first visited China in 1984 and have had the opportunity to observe China’s transformation over many trips, interactions and exchanges. Most recently, over the past three months, I co-chaired two of our three main bilateral mechanisms with senior Chinese leaders.

The 13th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation in Beijing, which I co-chaired with Politburo Standing Committee member and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli; and just last week, we welcomed Politburo member and Central Organisation Department Minister Zhao Leji for the 6th Singapore-China Forum on Leadership here in Singapore.

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We had a wide-ranging exchange of views on issues of common interest between our two countries. Such dialogues reflect the high level of mutual trust between our countries, and our mutual desire to learn from the experiences of each other. It is a unique dialogue for both countries.

They also provide a valuable platform for a new generation of leaders from our two countries to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other. Today, China’s weight in the world has undoubtedly grown – in the economic, social, international relations and political domains.

First, China’s economy. China’s growth moderated to about 6.7 per cent in 2016.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with world leaders at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. Singapore’s prime minister was not invited to the event. Photo: AFP

While it no longer enjoys the double-digit growth rates of the early decades of its economic opening, this is a more sustainable rate given the maturing Chinese economy. It is shifting from an economy characterised by low-wage labour towards innovation and productivity, and moving up the value chain. Skill and care are required to manage this transition.



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Within 10 years of joining the WTO in 2001, China had become the top trading partner for all key Asia-Pacific economies – Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and Asean.

For ASEAN, excluding intra-Asean trade, China is now Asean’s largest trading partner. In 2015, China accounted for 15 per cent of Asean’s trade, compared to just 4 per cent in 2001. Since 2015, China has also become a global player in a new dimension, as a net exporter of capital and investments.

China has also gone beyond being the “factory of the world” to creating global brands. Private enterprises especially in the digital economy such as WeChat and Didi Chuxing are transforming delivery of services within China and producing high-end products.

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At the same time, China is increasingly aware of the impact of its rapid economic growth on its environment. The government has started to take action domestically, and takes its responsibilities in the global arena seriously through its early ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Chinese companies are now global leaders in clean technology, electric vehicles and batteries.


Meanwhile, China needs to restructure its economy and reduce excess capacity in certain key sectors, and transform its state-owned enterprises. This is a huge and challenging task.

We are optimistic that China will develop an innovative, productive economy with greater contribution from services and its private sector. A prosperous and stable China benefits the region and the world.

Second, on the social front, Chinese leaders are keenly aware of the domestic hot-button livelihood issues that they need to address, such as unemployment, inflation, housing and air pollution. China will face some headwinds to sustain its economic growth as its demographic profile changes. China’s population is ageing fast. Nearly 15 per cent are over 60 years old, and by 2030, it will be 25 per cent. Its workforce growth is also slowing and will plateau. This will pose major challenges to family and social structures, and healthcare and pension systems.

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean delivers a speech at the 20th anniversary of the East Asian Institute think tank. File photo

The Chinese Government will need to cater to the younger generations of Chinese who have higher aspirations and expectations than their parents.

Many of these social challenges are not unique and Singapore too faces these issues. A comparative study of how these challenges are being addressed in East Asian societies, which have similar societal norms and values, would be quite instructive and help inform family and social policy in East Asia, including China. I also co-chair the Singapore-China Social Governance Forum with Politburo member and Political and Legal Affairs Commission Secretary Meng Jianzhu, where we share our experiences and exchange views on how we can address some of the common challenges in our changing social landscape. We hope to continue these mutually beneficial exchanges for a long time.


Third, as China grows in economic and military weight, it will play a more significant international role. China has launched the Belt and Road initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to connect countries across various regions. Singapore supports both initiatives. We saw early on how these initiatives will encourage further economic integration and infrastructure development. Beijing recently held a successful “Belt and Road” Forum. President Xi Jinping’s pledge of over US$100 billion for Belt and Road infrastructure projects over 56 economic zones in 20 countries was very well-received. China’s initiatives will benefit our region and countries along the Belt and Road, where there is significant demand for infrastructure funding.

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Furthermore, in spite of the global uncertainties over trade protectionism, China has embarked on the key tasks of internationalising the Renminbi and supporting global trade. By 2015, the Renminbi was the fifth most used currency for payments. Hong Kong, London and Singapore are now the three largest Renminbi clearing centres. Since 2016, the Renminbi has been included in the IMF basket of reserve currencies. The internationalisation of the Renminbi will provide more opportunities for Chinese companies to venture overseas, and work with other companies in third markets.

Members of a Chinese military honour guard outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. China saw its budget increase by 7 per cent to some US$150 billion this year. Photo: AFP

In defence, China saw its budget increase by 7 per cent to some US$150 billion this year. To provide some context, though it is the second highest in the world, it is about a quarter of the US defence budget of US$600 billion.

Under President Xi Jinping’s plans to streamline and upgrade the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the PLA Navy has been undergoing major developments to bring it closer to being able to operate beyond the near waters to more distant waters. As the major trading nation that China has become in the last twenty years, China will increasingly depend on international cooperation and conventions to ensure that its shipping and goods can proceed unhindered in all parts of the world. Recent deployments by the PLA Navy to join other navies, to protect international shipping against piracy in the Gulf of Aden are a case in point. No country can do this alone.

The Singapore Navy too worked with the Chinese Navy in the Gulf of Aden. The Chinese frigate Huangshan that visited Changi Naval Base last week was one of the PLA Navy ships that our Navy had frequent interactions with in the Gulf of Aden.

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Singapore Navy ships also visit China frequently; our frigate RSS Steadfast visited Shanghai last September and conducted a bilateral exercise with the Chinese frigate Jingzhou.

China is also developing its cultural products such as in the arts and film. Many of these Chinese works are widely available on various online media platforms. It has about 480 Confucius Institutes globally facilitating cultural exchanges and the learning of the Chinese language.


Fourth, political evolution in China. The 19th National Congress later this year will shape the political landscape in China for the next decade. President Xi has already taken important steps to strengthen party discipline through his anti-corruption drive and re-organised key State and Party institutions, including the People’s Liberation Army. The Communist Party of China (or “CPC” in short) has made great efforts to update itself. I have visited the Central Party School in Beijing as well as the three executive leadership academies in Yan’an, Pudong and Jinggangshan. The CPC is building the capabilities of its cadres to lead a modern economy, a population with raised aspirations, and a society that already has more than 730 million people connected to the internet. At the same time, it is re-visiting key inflexion points in its history such as the Long March in the mid-1930s, to renew and re-dedicate itself to values which have bonded the Party and the people.

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the Belt and Road forum. Photo: AFP

At the CPC’s 95th anniversary in 2016, President Xi urged the CPC to “listen to the voice of the times”, be innovative in theory and in practice, and adapt the CPC’s founding ideology to the current development realities and priorities in China. I am optimistic about China’s potential to continually reinvent itself and play a greater leadership role both within the region and globally.


Singapore-China relations have been aptly characterised as an “All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times”, during President Xi Jinping’s State Visit to Singapore in conjunction with 25 years of diplomatic relations in 2015. This reflects the depth, breadth and strength of our long-standing bilateral ties, and the bright prospects for the future. Singapore and China have worked closely together, and Singapore has been a consistent friend and supporter of China’s peaceful development. Each of our Government-to-Government projects, namely the Suzhou Industrial Park, the Tianjin Eco-City, and the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, and major platforms such as the Leadership Forum and Social Governance Forum, have supported China’s developmental priorities at key stages. Singapore and China have a broad and longstanding relationship.

We share similar views on most issues, and have worked well together to advance these common interests. But even among close neighbours and friends, there may be different perspectives on some issues, given that countries are of different sizes, have different histories, vulnerabilities, and geographical location.

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But the fundamental position of our two countries, that we share a common interest in the peaceful growth and development of our two countries and the region remains the same. Our common interest in building a peaceful and growing region is much greater than any occasional differences of views. Singapore will continue to be a strong and principled supporter of China’s peaceful development and constructive engagement in the region.

With that, I have three hopes for China: First, for a China that is stable and prosperous, even more integrated with the region and the world; Second, a China which continues to contribute to developing international norms and rules for the benefit of all, in order to preserve peace, stability, growth and development. Third, for a China that draws on its long history and deep culture to find a harmonious blend with modernity, as China continues making its societal transformation.

The East Asian story is an exciting and dynamic one, continuing to unfold. China is a key player in the story, and Singapore is a part of this great drama.

Teo Chee Hean is deputy prime minister of Singapore. This is an edited excerpt of Teo’s speech at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the city state’s East Asian Institute on Wednesday

China stresses role of Belt and Road Initiative in UN 2030 Agenda

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-24 17:22:27|Editor: Mengjie

UNITED NATIONS, May 23 (Xinhua) -- China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, at the UN Economic and Social Council forum on financing for development Tuesday.

"Four years on, the Belt and Road Initiative abides by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, strongly promote infrastructure development and connectivity, the alignment of development strategies among countries and enhance coordinated development," Liu said.

The Chinese envoy said the initiative has gained support from more than 100 countries and international organizations. So far, China has signed cooperation agreements with over 40 countries and international organizations, and established industrial capacity cooperation mechanisms with more than 30 countries.

Between 2014 and 2016, total trade volume between China and other Belt and Road countries exceeded 3 trillion U.S dollars, Liu said.

China's overall investment in these countries surpassed 50 billion dollars, and Chinese companies set up 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in over 20 countries, generating some 1.1 billion dollars in tax revenue and 180,000 jobs, according to the Chinese envoy.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has provided 1.7 billion dollars in loans to nine projects carried out in Belt and Road participating countries while the investment from the Silk Road Fund has amounted to 4 billion dollars. "All these efforts contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda," he said.

In the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefits, the forum on financing for development reached a multitude of fruitful outcomes, said Liu.

Liu told the meeting that financing for development is an important means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He called on participating countries to carry forward global economic governance and foster an international environment conducive to the development of developing countries.

"(China) expresses its sincere appreciation to South Africa and Belgium for their efforts as the co-facilitators" he said, adding that "international community should strengthen global cooperation for development, and help developing countries as they strive to meet the SDGs(Sustainable Development Goals).

US revives two key infrastructure projects in Asia: Five things to know

By: Express Web Desk | Washington |Published On: May 24, 2017 5:45 Pm

US President Donald Trump (File Photo)

In what could counter China’s ambitious One Belt One Road project, the US has moved to revive two large-scale infrastructure projects in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and India could play a key role in the plans. The Donald Trump administration has sought to revive the New Silk Road initiative. The plan was announced in July 2011 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Chennai. It has also sought to revive the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor that connects South Asia and South East Asia.

1. The Trump administration in its maiden budget briefly outlined the plans on Tuesday. The budget indicated that NSR will likely be a public-private partnership project. India could also be a key player in that initiative.

2. James McBride of the Council on Foreign Relations explains that the NSR refers to suite of joint investment projects and regional trade blocs that have the potential to bring economic growth and stability to Central Asia. McBride said that post the 2009 surge of troops in Afghanistan, “Washington began to lay out a strategy for supporting these initiative through diplomatic means”.

3. The NSR project had hit roadblocks in Obama’s second term with John Kerry running the state department. However, it seems, the Trump administration is looking at the option of economic diplomacy in South, Southeast and Central Asia. China’s OBOR is an example of how geoeconomics and economic diplomacy can be a good alternative to geostrategy in order to gain regional control.

4. While NSR will be focused primarily on connecting Afghanistan with its neighbouring countries, the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor will link South Asia with Southeast Asia. The support for the budgetary requests, according to the US state department, will be leveraged via side-by-side collaboration with regional countries. It will also raise support from bilateral donors, multilateral development banks as well as private sector players.

5. Afghanistan remains the key area of focus for the US. India enjoys close ties with Afghanistan and has contributed massively in helping the country in some of its key infrastructure projects. The state department said that the importance of the NSR grows in light of the transition happening in Afghanistan. It added that the US “strives to help the Afghan people succeed and stand on their own.”

US to revive Asian infra projects to counter China

24 May 2017 | By Gaurav Jeyaraman | PC: 

The Trump administration has revived 2 infrastructure projects in Asia, providing brief details in their maiden annual budget.

The New Silk Road initiative, announced when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor have both been resuscitated. India will play a key role in both.

The projects are seen as a means to counter Chinese influence through the OBOR.

Context: How the US is countering OBOR?

24 May 2017: US to revive Asian infra projects to counter China

OBOR: What is OBOR?

China announced the One Belt One Road initiative as a means to improve trade connections between Asia and Europe.

The ambitious project envisages creation of several trade corridors on land and across the sea, to ultimately link the trade between South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

India is opposed to one of the projects as it runs through PoK.

NSR: What is the New Silk Road initiative?

The NSR initiative was announced by Hillary Clinton in July 2011, in Chennai.

The initiative primarily seeks to improve Afghanistan's connectivity with its neighbourhood, by becoming a transit hub for energy and goods trade.

She emphasized on building economic corridors across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan up to Central Asia to consolidate trade between these countries.

Fact: Clinton on the NSR

"Turkmen gas fields could help meet both Pakistan's and India's growing energy needs and provide transit revenues for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tajik cotton could be turned into Indian linens. Furniture, fruit from Afghanistan could find its way to markets of Astana or Mumbai and beyond."

Implementation: How will the projects be implemented?


According to officials in the Trump administration, their budgetary allocation will help support the projects.

They will implement in collaboration with regional partners in bilateral or multilateral mechanisms.

They will also use assistance from development banks. They said that the private sector will play a major role in realizing these two projects.

IPEC: The Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor

The IPEC was initially proposed during the US rebalancing and pivot to Asia strategy which began in late 2011.

The concept sought to improve economic and trade linkages between South Asia and South East Asia, and eventually link South Asia to the Pacific states.

This involved development of new ports, road transit corridors etc. India would play a key role in the project

US revives New Silk Road with India playing big part: Is this a snub to China and CPEC?

The US has brought back the New Silk Road and the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor, both of which could challenge China's bid for regional supremacy. Read to know more.

Arkadev Ghoshal


May 24, 2017 21:28 IST

[Representational image]Flickr

Southern and South-Eastern Asia is now broadly divided into two sections, with India and its allies on one side and Pakistan, China and their allies on the other. This has become all the more apparent in recent times due to China's persistent denial of India's appeals for a seat in the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG), and the developments surrounding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Now, it seems that India has a new and much stronger ally in the United States, with the Donald Trump administration reviving the New Silk Road project, in which India is slated to play a major part. It would give India a much bigger role in the region, rivalling that of China. 

What is the New Silk Road?


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According to the US State Department: "The New Silk Road initiative was first envisioned in 2011 as a means for Afghanistan to integrate further into the region by resuming traditional trading routes and reconstructing significant infrastructure links broken by decades of conflict." Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State back then, had spoken about it. 

The department adds about the project: "With multiple transitions underway in Afghanistan, the United States and its allies can bolster peace and stability in the region by supporting a transition to trade and helping open new markets connecting Afghanistan to Central Asia, Pakistan, India and beyond."

[Representational image]Creative Commons

How it helps India

A new "Silk Road" of US making directly conflicts the "One Belt One Road" idea China was promulgating while promoting the CPEC. The new initiative means China will no more have the say in the projects on the Belt and Road Initiative, since it may not be the only project around that count.

And as if that was not enough, the US has also brought back the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor, which links South Asia with Southeast Asia. This entirely bypasses China, which is in East Asia, while keeping India at the centre of the action. Also, both projects keep Pakistan in play, amid fears that the CPEC alone could have helped 

For all the chest-thumping, India cannot win a war against Pakistan

Raghu Raman 

May 24, 2017

Who is mightier? (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

In the 1983 film WarGames, a nuclear war simulation is accidentally started by a supercomputer designed to take over in the event of the Cold War spiralling out of control. After evaluating all the possibilities, the computer declares that “war is a strange game, in which the only winning move—is not to play.” That advice is possibly truest for India right now.

For all the xenophobic war mongering touted in every medium, India cannot “win” a war against Pakistan and the sooner we appreciate this politico-military reality, the more coherent and serious we will sound to our adversaries and the world community. The demands for a “once and for all” resolution of Kashmir/Pakistan emanating from several quarters, which surprisingly includes some veterans—equating India’s non-retaliation with impotence—perhaps don’t factor the larger picture and the stark truth of modern military warfare.

Matter of fact, short of total genocide, no country regardless of its war-withal can hope to achieve a decisive victory with a “short war” in today’s world. As the US is discovering eight years, trillion dollars, and over 25,000 casualties later—in Afghanistan. That era of “decisive” short wars, especially in the Indo-Pak context, is largely over because of several reasons.

Firstly, the much vaunted Indian military superiority is largely an accounting subterfuge. Sure we have more soldiers, tanks, aircraft, and ships than Pakistan, but banking on mere numbers is misleading and irrelevant in military strategy. Pakistan has successfully locked down over 30% of our army in internal counter insurgency roles that not only sucks in combat troops from their primary roles for prolonged periods, but also alienates the local population in the valley.

The major reason for the Pakistani Op Gibraltar’s failure in 1965 was the overwhelming loyalty of Kashmiri locals towards India. Disguised Pakistani troops who had infiltrated into the valley to incite rebellions were caught by the locals and promptly handed over to the Indian security forces. Fifty years later, sentiment in the valley is very different. And this “turning move” has been achieved by Pakistan with a ridiculously low investment of merely a few hundred terrorists and psychological operations.

Another substantial part of our army is locked down in the North East insurgency and we are still trying to build adequate force levels against our much stronger adversary all along our border with China. India’s Chinese front is in a tenuous state because of decades of neglect and the massive infrastructure China has built to be able to mobilise several divisions in a matter of hours into that theatre.

Most worryingly, Pakistan and China have achieved military interoperability, which is the capability of their two armies to execute joint missions against a common target. Decades of mutual cooperation, technology transfer, training, equipment sales, and of course a common enemy, have welded our two adversaries into a formidable joint force. Pakistan’s accelerated achievements in nuclear technology, missile delivery systems, logistic supply chain of equipment, and spares as well as new-age technologies such as cyber and drone warfare are all the result of cooperation between the two countries.

In contrast, India has not even been able to integrate its three services, what to speak of assimilation with political leadership, industry, academia and indigenous defence capabilities. As Praveen Sahwney points out in his book “The Dragon on our doorsteps,” India has primarily focused on developing its military arsenal whereas Pakistan and China have been developing war waging capabilities, which is a synthesis of many strengths other than just military force.

Secondly, Pakistan has leveraged its geopolitical position far more strategically than India has been able to. India has traditionally relied on moral high ground to achieve global consensus and support. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the world’s largest democracy, wedged in between a communist adversary and a rapidly radicalising Islamic nation got global mindshare and sympathy. Though none of that translated into meaningful benefits for India per se, our foreign policy continues to have the hangover of “doing the right thing.” Unfortunately, in the harsh reality of the contemporary world that doesn’t count for much.

Russia, our traditional all-weather friend, has far greater bonhomie with both the US and China than ever before. The US needs Pakistan to achieve closure in Afghanistan so much so, that despite the blatant betrayal of shielding America’s public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, the US has no choice but to continue supporting Pakistan financially and militarily. On the other hand Pakistan’s dependence on the US has reduced dramatically with China filling in the gap.

China’s “One Belt One Road” project coursing through the length of Pakistan has pretty much made the two permanent partners. China’s economic aspirations and access to the Arabian Sea through Baluchistan ending at Gwadar port is a strategic masterstroke by Pakistan and China. Not only is it a win-win for them but it is also a “lose-lose” for India for many reasons.

Firstly, the only area where India could try a meaningful riposte to Pakistan-sponsored insurgency would be Baluchistan. By tying in China’s stake of keeping Baluchistan under control, Pakistan has made it extraordinarily difficult for India to make any aggressive move in its south without threatening Chinese interests. The same is true for any Indian military action in the theatres of Kashmir or Punjab. Any Indian operation that endangers thousands of Chinese citizens working on the CPEC project in Pakistan will draw the wrath of China and give them the loco standi to initiate hostilities against India. So beyond shallow skirmishes all along the border, India really has no operational or strategic options without the risk of drawing China into a two-front war.

Pakistan has correctly appreciated that the force levels which India will be able to muster against it will be more or less evenly matched, and in the event of Indo-Pak hostilities, they can depend on China for their logistics supply chain as well as splitting the Indian armed forces’ resources and focus by mobilising PLA divisions along the border with India. This would in effect, pin down a substantial part of the Indian Army’s reserves to cater for the eastern front.

Also, now there too many stakeholders dependent on the success of the “One Belt One Road”/CPEC project and any disturbance in this area would be attributed to India’s truculence rather than Pakistan’s interference into Kashmir. China combine has positioned the OBOR as an Asian developmental initiative, whereas the Kashmir problem has been positioned as a bilateral local issue—by none other than India itself. So, rather than looking like the visionary big player in the Asian growth story, India is at the risk of being perceived as the obdurate party incapable of setting aside bilateral issues for the larger good of the region. And with dark clouds hovering over their own respective challenges, none of the world’s major powers, the US, UK, Russia or France, will have the gumption to interfere militarily in an Indo-Pak conflict that has the potential to draw in the fifth permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Politically too, India is in no position to consider a short war. The current political dispensation is only just gathering momentum on its electoral manifestoes, the lynchpin of which is economic development. That necessitates a stable and peaceful environment. War clouds are an antithesis for economic investments. Even preparation for war costs billions of dollars in terms of resources and mindshare, a diversion that India can scarcely afford when millions of youth are entering the job market whose un-channelised energies is another potential risk.

For a nation to go to war, all its pillars of strength, including its military, economic prowess, industrial capability, external alliances and national will must be aligned in a singular direction to achieve meaningful success. War waging is not about bombastic threats, surgical strikes, cross-border firing or clamorous bellowing on TV channels. That is called letting off steam. There is an old couplet by Ramdhari Dinkar which suggests that forgiveness befits a snake which has venom in its bite—not one which is weak, toothless, and harmless. To be taken seriously, India needs to build that strength first rather than spewing ineffectual rhetoric.

This post first appeared on Medium. We welcome your comments at

CPEC may create more India-Pakistan tension: UN



ISLAMABAD: The India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir is a matter of concern, according to a United Nations (UN) report, claiming that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) might create geopolitical tensions with India and ignite political instability.

The report released by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) on Tuesday feared that Afghanistan’s political instability could limit the potential benefits of transit corridors to population centres near Kabul or Kandahar.

The report, ‘The Belt and Road Initiative and the Role of Escap' was prepared at China’s request and covers the six economic corridors spanning Asia, Europe and Africa under the umbrella of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

CPEC holds the promise of closer trade, investment and energy cooperation between the two countries, as it creates alternative maritime trade routes for China and its trading partners, it said. According to the report, CPEC could serve as the “driver for trade and economic integration” between China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states.


Incensed India

India did not send an official delegation to attend the “Belt and Road Forum” (OBOR) in Beijing after the Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui called on India to join.

Instead, India criticised China's global initiative, warning of an “unsustainable debt burden” for countries involved.

India is incensed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ─ one of the key Belt and Road projects ─ passes through Kashmir and Pakistan.

“No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay said.

He also warned of the danger of debt. One of the criticisms of the Silk Road plan is that host countries may struggle to pay back loans for huge infrastructure projects being carried out and funded by Chinese companies and banks.

“Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create an unsustainable debt burden for communities,” Baglay said.

'Shared prosperity'

On the other hand, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif insisted that the CPEC and OBOR initiatives were all about shared prosperity, beginning a new era for humanity and progress in poor regions.

“Work has already begun across Asia and Africa on infrastructure, industrial cooperation and new platforms of technology. Financial flows have found their way to some of the least developed parts of the world. These outcomes are knitting nations and regions into economic networks and inclusive neighbourhoods that transcend borders,” he said while addressing the second session of the Leaders Roundtable at the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

He added that the core of the OBOR initiative was connectivity and long-term development, especially in developing countries.

Similarly, China’s regional governments are falling over each other to curry favour with President Xi Jinping, jostling for roles in his New Silk Road plan to boost economic and cultural links through Asia to Europe.

One says it wants to send its young people to be Silk Road “super connectors”, while a second is pitching to become a new home for foreign consulates. Another wants to build a folk museum to commemorate Beijing’s overseas push.

While official plans published in 2015 only list 18 provinces as areas key to the plan, over 30 of China’s territories now say they have an OBOR strategy


From: Indian Express By: Published at: August 25, 2016

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi ’s Independence Day speech from the Red Fort mentioning Balochistan has set in motion a debate on motives, linkages with Jammu & Kashmir and whether India can stay the course.

However, the moot point being missed is the legal status of Balochistan. The whole issue hinges on whether or not Kalat (as Balochistan was then called) was an Indian princely state or an independent non-Indian state under British rule. If it is the latter, then clearly what the Baloch nationalists say about Pakistan’s illegal occupation has merit.

The British came into contact with Kalat in 1839 seeking passage and provisions during the disastrous first Afghan war. The British signed treaties with the Khan of Kalat in 1839, 1841, 1854, 1862 and 1876. While each treaty eroded the Khan’s sphere of action and the territories of the Khanate, all of them essentially recognised his independence. For example, the agreement of 1862 called the Khanate a neighbouring state of India and the 1876 treaty acknowledged the Khan as an independent ruler, an ally and a friendly neighbour.

The legal status of Kalat as an independent state continued till 1947. It was on this basis that the Khan never joined the Chamber of Princes in Delhi and always maintained that they were not a part of Britain’s Indian empire. While the 560-odd princely states in India belonged to Category A and were dealt with by the political department, states like Kalat, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, were Category B states and dealt with by the external affairs department.

However, for reasons that are not very clear, the Government Of India Act, 1935 treated the Khanate as a part of India. In protest, the Khan wrote to the British government demanding that the “restrictions and conditions imposed, contrary to the terms of the treaty of 1876… may be withdrawn and rescinded and the independence of the Kalat government may be honoured scrupulously in accordance with the treaty.” After his protest, on June 10, 1939, the British government informed the Khan that “His Excellency recognises the treaty of 1876 as fully valid in every respect and that it would henceforth form the relations between the British and Kalat.”

In March 1946, the Khan submitted a memorandum to the Cabinet Mission through his lawyer — none other than Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The memorandum argued that: “On the transference of power in British India, the subsisting treaties between the Khan of Kalat and the British government would come to an end, and whatever obligations have been imposed on the Khan by these treaties will ipso facto terminate. The consequence will be that the state of Kalat will become fully sovereign and independent in respect of both external and internal matters.”

As the Cabinet Mission could not find flaws with the legality of the demand, it left the issue unresolved. At a round table conference held in Delhi on August 4, 1947 — attended by Lord Mountbatten, the Khan of Kalat and Jinnah — it was decided that the “Kalat State will be independent, enjoying the same status as it originally held in 1838.” Jinnah also signed a standstill agreement with the Khan on August 4, 1947. According to it, “The government of Pakistan recognises Kalat as an independent sovereign state in treaty relations with the British government, with a status different from that of Indian states.”

Thereafter, the Khan declared the independence of Kalat on August 12, 1947, two days before the creation of Pakistan. The independence, however, was short-lived. At the end of March 1948, Pakistan occupied Kalat and forced the Khan to sign the instrument of accession.

From the evidence, it is clear that Kalat was not an Indian state. Thus, legally at least, Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan is dubious at best, illegal at worst. In either case, there is merit in the argument of the Baloch nationalists that Balochistan is not an internal matter of Pakistan. As Jinnah argued before the Cabinet Mission, the association of Balochistan with India was “merely due to its connection with the British government.”

It is one of the ironies of history that Jinnah, who as Kalat’s lawyer had argued for its independence and as governor general-designate of Pakistan agreed to its independence, was later to force its accession to Pakistan